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Another mental health perk found for coffee drinkers

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Coffee linked to lower suicide risk.

Harvard researchers have discovered a link between lower suicide rates and coffee consumption. Could it be that caffeine in coffee really does make us feel happier?

The finding, published in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, is an observational finding that comes from an analysis of data from three large U.S. studies involving 43,599 men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up study (HPFS); 73,820 women in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and 91,005 women in the NHS II.

The Harvard researchers assessed caffeine consumption via food questionnaires, including decaf and regular coffee and other sources every 4-years throughout the study. They also investigated deaths from suicide by looking at death certificates.

The finding showed most caffeine consumption among the participants came from coffee, though tea, chocolate and sodas were also included.

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The researchers uncovered 277 deaths from suicide during the study period.

When the data was analyzed, the results showed 50 percent lower risk of suicide among people who drink 2 to 4 cups of coffee each day; compared to decaf and non-coffee drinkers.

The study authors say coffee might help lower risk of suicide because it boosts chemicals in the brain that make us feel good – specifically dopamine and serotonin.

The study authors warn though coffee seems to lower suicide risk substantially, they caution that drinking more than you normally do could have negative side effects and they don’t recommend adding more to your normal daily consumption.

A past study from Harvard scientists links coffee consumption to a 20 percent lower risk of depression among women. We also know dark chocolate with cocoa can help us feel less stressed.

The new study suggest another health benefit of coffee that is observed, but not proven, to lower suicide risk by 50 percent. Combined with past studies showing coffee can lift depression, it just might be that a bit of daily caffeine can make us feel happier.